Basics of Rhyme Scheme: Definition & Examples
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 6 min read


  1. What is Rhyme Scheme?
  2. Rhyme Scheme in Poetry
  3. Types of Rhyme Schemes
  4. How to Identify Rhyme Scheme
  5. Examples of Rhyme Scheme in Literature

Have you ever wondered why some poems have a musicality to them, a rhythm that taps our feet and stirs our hearts? The secret sauce is often the 'rhyme scheme'. Understanding the rhyme scheme can transform your poetry reading—and writing—experience. This blog will help you understand the definition of rhyme scheme, its role in poetry, different types, and how to identify it. We'll also dive into some classic literature to see rhyme schemes in action.

What is Rhyme Scheme?

The definition of rhyme scheme, simply put, is the pattern of end rhymes or lines in a poem or song. It's like a blueprint that outlines what sound each line should end with. This pattern is usually marked by letters—each letter representing a different rhyme.

The Purpose of Rhyme Scheme

  • Creates Rhythm: One of the primary roles of a rhyme scheme is to create rhythm in a poem. Just like a catchy beat in a song, a well-crafted rhyme scheme keeps the poem flowing smoothly, making it more engaging to read or listen to.
  • Enhances Meaning: Sometimes, a poet uses a unique rhyme scheme to emphasize certain themes or ideas in the poem. This strategic use of rhyme can make a powerful impact on the reader's interpretation of the poem.
  • Adds Pleasure: There's a certain pleasure in predicting the rhyme of the next line and then having that expectation met. It's a little like solving a fun puzzle!

Identifying a Rhyme Scheme

Identifying a rhyme scheme is a bit like a fun game of matching. You start by labeling the first line with the letter 'A'. Then, if the next line rhymes with the first, it also gets the label 'A'. If it doesn't rhyme, you move on to the next letter in the alphabet, 'B', and so on. Let's apply this to a simple four-line poem:

Roses are red, (A)  Violets are blue, (B)  Sugar is sweet, (C)  And so are you. (B)

Here, the rhyme scheme is ABCB. Isn't that neat? Keep in mind that the definition of rhyme scheme isn't just about identifying rhymes—it's about understanding the structure and beauty of poetry.

Rhyme Scheme in Poetry

As we delve further into the world of poetry, it becomes clear that rhyme scheme is a fundamental tool in a poet's toolbox. Not only does it give the poem a rhythmic structure, but it also helps to convey the poet's message in a more impactful way.

Role of Rhyme Scheme in Poetry

  • Establishes Structure: Rhyme scheme is a great way to provide a sense of order and structure in a poem. It's like the framework of a building, supporting and shaping the poem.
  • Aids Memorability: Rhyme schemes make poems easier to remember. Think about the nursery rhymes you learned as a child; the rhyme schemes are probably one of the reasons they've stuck with you for so long!
  • Enhances Emotional Impact: A cleverly designed rhyme scheme can amplify the emotional resonance of a poem, making the reader feel the emotions more deeply.

Rhyme Scheme and Poetic Forms

While every poet has the liberty to create their own rhyme scheme, there are certain traditional poetic forms that come with a preset rhyme scheme. Here are a couple you might recognize:

  • Sonnet: This is a 14-line poem traditionally written in iambic pentameter. The Shakespearean sonnet, for example, has a rhyme scheme of ABABCDCDEFEFGG.
  • Limerick: These are light-hearted, humorous poems of five lines with a rhyme scheme of AABBA.

Understanding the definition of rhyme scheme and its importance in poetry can truly transform your reading experience. You'll begin to appreciate the craft involved in creating these beautiful works of art.

Types of Rhyme Schemes

Now that we've tackled the definition of rhyme scheme and its role in poetry, let's explore the different types of rhyme schemes. You'll find that poets have a vast array of options when it comes to structuring their verses!

Alternate Rhyme Scheme

Also known as ABAB rhyme scheme, this is where the first and third, and the second and fourth lines of each verse rhyme with each other. It's like musical chairs, but with rhymes, and it's been a classic favorite among poets for centuries.

Enclosed Rhyme Scheme

Next up, we've got the enclosed or ABBA rhyme scheme. This one's a bit like a rhyme sandwich — the outer lines rhyme with each other, as do the inner lines. It’s a neat little package of rhyming goodness that can add a unique twist to a poem.

Monorhyme Scheme

Perhaps the simplest of all, the monorhyme scheme involves having all lines in a verse rhyme with each other. That's right — every line ends with the same sound. It's like a chorus that echoes throughout the poem, creating a strong rhythmic effect.

Couplet Rhyme Scheme

Finally, there's the couplet rhyme scheme, where two consecutive lines rhyme with each other. It's a bit like a poetic pair, and it’s often used to deliver a punchline or a profound thought at the end of a poem.

These are just a few examples of the different types of rhyme schemes out there. Once you start looking for them, you'll find that the possibilities are almost endless!

How to Identify Rhyme Scheme

Alright, now that we've covered the definition of rhyme scheme and the different types you can find in poetry, let's talk about how you can identify these rhyme schemes in the wild, so to speak. It's not as tricky as it may sound, promise.

Listen for the Rhymes

First things first, you'll want to listen for the rhymes. As you read the poem, notice which lines end with sounds that match. Those matching sounds are the heartbeat of the rhyme scheme, and identifying them can help you understand the structure of the poem.

Mark the Rhymes

Once you've spotted the rhymes, the next step is to mark them. Here's where the letters come in. You can label the first end sound as 'A', the second as 'B', and so on. If a sound repeats, it gets the same letter. By the end, you'll have a clear map of the rhyme scheme, or in other words, you'll have the poem's rhyme DNA.

Check for Patterns

Now, time to check for patterns. Are the rhymes arranged in a certain way? Do they follow a regular pattern like ABAB or AABB, or is it more of a free-for-all? Understanding these patterns will give you clues about the poet's intentions and the effect they're trying to achieve.

And there you have it! With these steps, you can decode the rhyme scheme of any poem you come across. Remember, practice makes perfect, so the more you do it, the better you'll get.

Examples of Rhyme Scheme in Literature

Let's now move into the realm of examples. Seeing the definition of rhyme scheme in action will help cement your understanding. Keep in mind; these are just a few examples. Literature is brimming with varied and creative rhyme schemes.

Shakespeare's Sonnets

First up, we can't talk about rhyme schemes without mentioning Shakespeare. His sonnets are famous for their ABABCDCDEFEFGG scheme. It's a complex pattern, but it creates a sense of completeness and closure. Here's the final couplet from Sonnet 18:

  • 'So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
  • So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.' - GG

Emily Dickinson's Poetry

Next, let's look at Emily Dickinson. Her poems often use an ABCB rhyme scheme, providing a unique rhythm and flow. Check out these lines from "Because I could not stop for Death":

  • 'Because I could not stop for Death –
  • He kindly stopped for me –
  • The Carriage held but just Ourselves –
  • And Immortality.' - ABCB

Dr. Seuss's Books

Last but not least, let's dive into the playful world of Dr. Seuss. Many of his books, like "The Cat in the Hat," use an AABB or ABCB rhyme scheme, making them fun and easy to read aloud:

  • 'The sun did not shine. It was too wet to play.
  • So we sat in the house. All that cold, cold, wet day.' - AABB

These examples give you a taste of how different rhyme schemes can shape a poem's rhythm, tone, and feel. So next time you pick up a poem, remember to take a moment to appreciate the craft behind the rhymes.

If you're looking to expand your knowledge on rhyme schemes and improve your poetic skills, don't miss the workshop 'Wordplay' by Celina Rodriguez. This workshop will help you master the art of rhyme and wordplay, allowing you to take your poetry to new heights.